Media Coverage


Questions that Every Marketer Should be Asking about Data Protection, GDPR, and Customer Loyalty

May 08, 2018

By Jim Panagas

Let’s face it. Data Protection has suddenly become a major issue all around the globe. In the United States, we all hate having to spend the first 30 minutes of our business day deleting dozens of emails from our business in-box that we never asked to receive in the first place. Apart from creating clutter, these unwanted messages are generally annoying. Sometimes they get your name wrong. Or you read the entire email and honestly don’t know what it is that they want you to do. Or worse yet, it’s a phishing scheme like the ones we hear about on the evening news.
On this issue, the Europeans might actually be a few pages ahead of us. They are trying to be at the forefront of the data protection movement, and the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR goes a long way towards making that happen. While its aim is to protect the data privacy of EU citizens, make no mistake about it – it’s going to have an impact on American companies selling products or services into the European Union.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen a litany of articles, webinars, and seminars go into excruciating detail about what this legislation means to the business world. The goal of this article is to be distill down to a short list of the most need-to-know facts about the GDPR...and to answer some of the burning questions that every marketer should be asking right about now.


May 25: GDPR will bite as big as it barks

May 08, 2018

By Duncan Hendy

We are on the brink of a mega shake-up of data privacy rules – one that has caused a tsunami of stress and panic among businesses and organisations, all struggling to become compliant with the new General Data Protection Regulation in time for its May 25th deadline. GDPR will bite – very soon and very hard, but although there are plenty of negatives to be aware of, there are also many positives, says Duncan Hendy, citing an enhanced customer relationship as the ultimate reason for ensuring your database is squeaky-GDPR-clean.

GPDR will hit the scene this month and, if you’re not ready, your company could be getting into hot water — very, very hot water! Companies of all sizes worldwide have been preparing themselves for the biggest shake-up of personal data privacy rules since the internet was born. If you’ve got an extra €20m to spend on GDPR noncompliance, then there’s no reason to panic. If not . . . it’s about time you did.

The Breach Level Index recently released by Gemalto revealed that the number of records stolen, lost or exposed worldwide in 2017 soared 88% in one year to 2.6 billion. The year saw 1,765 data breaches, of which 69% were identity theft.

Telecommunications company TalkTalk’s €460,000 fine in 2016 for security flaws that allowed hackers access to customer data, would potentially be an eye-watering £59m post-GDPR.

According to the GDPR powers-that-be, we’ve had two years to get ready, and the deadline of May 25, 2018 is absolute.

If this doesn’t scare you, it should.

The death of data-driven marketing?

Regardless of location, companies must become proactive in developing provably compliant procedures for handling EU customer personal data and be able to respond agilely to customer rights.

In case you’ve been sleeping for the past two years, here’s what you’ve missed: You must obtain verified consent (by way of double opt-in) for each specific use of an individual’s data and have done so for your current database should you wish to hold onto its data. When an individual asks to see what information you hold, to have it updated, to restrict your usage of it, to have it sent to a third party or themselves, or even to have it completely erased (from all parts of the organisation), you must be able to comply in a timely fashion (around 30 days, shortening to 72 hours if it’s in response to a data breach).

In short: not quite the death of marketing as we know it, but another series of hoops that marketers must jump through.

GDPR compliance: the new business swear word

Compliance will likely mean a complete overhaul of your current systems and processes to ensure the individual is back in charge of their own data. And, as the responsibility of protecting it is shared with third parties who process the data on your behalf, like hosting providers, cloud service providers and data processing firms, you can be held accountable for theirnoncompliance.

A survey conducted by Alert Logic found that 32% of EU-based companies expect significant changes to their security practices and technologies, the biggest challenges to compliance being lack of budget (50%), lack of in-house IT expertise (48%) and limited understanding of the regulations (37%).

A Pulse Survey into the GDPR preparedness of companies (July 2017) found that despite 93% of companies having started preparations, 36% of them only started mid-2017, and only 11% were actually ready. Of those compliant, 88% spent more than $1 million, of which 40% spent in excess of $10 million.

Those ready ahead of time are already using the fact as a differentiator, highlighting early compliance to help drive a competitive advantage. The 89% still not ready risk regulator fines, litigation costs and lost opportunities in Europe.

Flybe (airline) was fined £70,000 in August 2016 for (presumably accidentally) sending an email to their opted-out 3.3 million-strong database about whether their details were correct.

JD Wetherspoon (pub company) took the unprecedented step of deleting their entire email marketing database of more than 650,000 email addresses. Scary, but safe.

Despite the Symantec’s State of European Privacy Report finding that only 14% of businesses believe everyone in the organisation is responsible for ensuring the protection of data, GDPR is a companywide issue and it’s got to be all heads in gear and all hands on deck.

Is your CMS GDPR ready? You’re going to need all the help you can get

Your content management system (CMS) is an essential component of your GDPR success, so it’s important that it itself is GDPR ready and actively assists you in all compliance-related matters.

It should be able to handle multiple purpose-specific consents for each user and bind them to related features and modules, automatically recognising whether consent for a current activity has been obtained.

It should also simplify life with easy double opt-in validation models that automatically send verification emails and validate consent. As the GDPR requirements of each company will be unique, your CMS should be completely customisable to your specific consent and management needs.

It should store all personal data in one place (preferably its own CRM) and enable quick access to those in your company who need to respond to individuals’ update requests. A complete history of consent should also be easily available for proof when required. When a user wishes to see the information you hold about them or share it with a third party, your CMS should enable you to export and send it to them in a machine-readable format, as required by the regulation.

When a user invokes their ‘right to be forgotten’, your software should not only make this simple, but also be able to recognise which information (if any) is exempt. It should send and log notifications to all relevant third parties to inform them of the deletion request. According to Symantec, 60% of businesses do not have the systems in place to respond to such requests.

Data flow mapping will be important in getting a clear view of your privacy risks and workflow capabilities will be indispensable in managing the extensive related documentation. Reporting features that outline what data is where will also prove invaluable as your opted-in database grows. As well as who can access it — your CMS should offer user permission management with granular permission levels that has sophisticated user authentication and tracking.

And if you really haven’t started yet . . . consider cloud-based solutions which get you moving faster.

GDPR will bite – but is it all doom and gloom?

Though May 25 feels like an impending marketing apocalypse, GPDR compliance can bring some surprising benefits to your company, its processes and your users.

Companies are likely to have to change how they operate, which can drastically improve data management, company systems and internal processes. Communication between departments is likely to improve. Better co-operation between Marketing and Sales can mean a better customer experience and deals closed sooner.

Getting people on your database to re-consent won’t be fun or easy, but spring-cleaning never is. However, the result is a breath of fresh air. Although you’ll have less data to work with, the data you do hold will be more reliable and relevant. You can reap greater value from your smaller audience as they are already listening and can be turned more easily into quality leads, with higher click-through rates and increased sales.

And, of course, the most important part of GDPR compliance: respect for your customer’s personal information and responsible handling of their data breeds trust. You can’t buy trust — even if you have that extra €20m to spend!

If you’re scared half to death about the scale of changes that have to happen in your organisation and the size of the penalty for noncompliance, it’s not misplaced. But focus on why this whole thing came about in the first place; the customer wishes it. And you know that a happy customer is a happy business. Put their interests at the heart of your efforts, get your systems in order and you’ve nothing to fear – a bit of hard work now will avoid a nasty GDPR bite later.

DISCLAIMER: All data and information provided in this article are for informational purposes only. Kentico makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information contained herein. We recommend consulting with a lawyer for any legal advice pertaining to GDPR compliance.

Have an opinion on this article? Please join in the discussion: the GMA is a community of data driven marketers and YOUR opinion counts.

Author: Duncan Hendy
Content strategy manager at Kentico Software |

Originally from the UK, Duncan Hendy is content strategy manager at Kentico Software in Brno, the Czech Republic. When not working, he composes classical music, including for the Brno Filharmonie for Mendel: The Legacy, broadcast in 19 countries. He is also the author of several books


Right to be forgotten: The death of data-driven marketing?

April 04, 2018

By Duncan Hendy

Designed to harmonize customer rights across Europe, the GDPR is one of the most significant developments in customer data use and management is recent years and it’s going to shake a few things up when it arrives in May 2018, specifically in terms of data collection and storage.

For you to collect customer data, users must clearly give permission for you to contact them and should be informed as to why and how their data will be processed, and all consent should be verifiable and the records accessible upon request.

The type of data you can collect should not be superfluous to needs and you will have to be able to legally justify the processing of it as being of “legitimate interests” to both you and the user. Data kept will have to be up to date or removed.

But in addition to the regulations around how data is collected and used, companies have to brace themselves for the right a customer will have to revoke consent entirely. Known as their right to be forgotten (or right to erasure). Should a user request to have some or all of their data deleted, you have to be able to provably do so securely and completely from every part of your organization (including backups and any scans, photographs, or copies) unless there is a very specific and compelling reason why you need to keep the information (e.g. loan providers).

Then the data controller must delete and remove said data “without undue delay”, within a month of the request, and be able to prove it. It is also their responsibility to take “all reasonable steps” to inform third parties to whom the information was made available (encrypted, of course) of the erasure request and require them to follow suit (as they are jointly responsible). Customers also have the right to request to have their data sent to them in a commonly-used, machine-readable format.

For many, GDPR is the death of data and the murder of marketing as we have come to love it.

In recent years, personal customer data has become the lifeblood of effective marketing—content personalization, targeted advertising, drip marketing campaigns, to name a few—and has led to the holistic enhancement of the customer experience; proven to have a dramatically positive impact on sales.

But just as it is often restrictions in life that ignite our creativity, the new regulation might prove to be a boon for data-addicted marketers, and forward-thinking businesses can embrace the values of permission-based marketing that the GDPR is heralding, showing the rest of the pack what leaner, cleaner data-driven marketing can do.

And it can do—no major paradigm shift required. It just means tightening our focus on nurturing the customer relationships of those who actually want it. Kind of like the best practice marketing techniques that have been talked about for a decade.

As you know, opt-in data outperforms non- in open rates, engagement, and conversions. So, once we get over the initial shock of a loss in data quantity, we can appreciate our improved data quality and focus our efforts on our most coveted prize: customer loyalty. You know, the stuff that makes our mouths water—repeat custom, word-of-mouth referrals, social sharing, increased sales, and boosted revenue.

And while getting more of what we want, the customer gets ethical use of their private data and transparency in how we use it—all the things they love.

How’s that for win-win?

So where do we start? 

Get on board: Resistance is futile (and eye-wateringly expensive), so the quicker you get on board with why the GDPR exists and can be good for business, the sooner you can leverage its value to you. Take a long, detailed look at all your current processes and systems. You may be surprised to find that becoming compliant actually leads to better clarity and more efficient working processes.

Get ready: Start now to get data up to date, with no duplicates or inaccuracies, and make sure it’s compliant by getting re-permissions from your current customers ahead of the inevitable blizzard of pre-enforcement requests. You may well receive a lot of erasure requests, but a spotless contact management system means sparkling marketing campaigns that work with greater efficiency and efficacy.

Get savvy: If you can demonstrate lawful “legitimate interests”, you might be able to continue to process current data. Some documents are not classed as personal data and therefore not subject to the right to erasure. There are also exceptions to a user’s right to be forgotten. So dive deep into the specifics of GDPR and what it really requires of yourbusiness. It’s certainly not time to panic. But it IS time to think about getting a legal advisor and maybe creating a Data Protection Officer post.

Get supported: Some ahead-of-the-curve content management systems offer sophisticated tools to help you get and stay GDPR compliant. Things like mapped data flows, multiple consent management, consented-only personalization and activity tracking, consent forms customizable to your specific needs, as well as easy data downloads in XML formats to respond to customer requests and easy-to-use data deletion features to respond quickly to right-to-be-forgotten invocations.

So no, data-driven marketing is not dead. It’s just growing up. Leaving the wasteful, and even intrusive behind, it now has its focus on longer-lasting and more meaningful relationships in which both parties get what they want. And forward-thinking businesses that look beyond the dark cloud of data despair to see the GDPR silver lining will be first in line to reap the rewards of win-win marketing.


The WCM Industry from the Front Lines

March 29, 2018

The WCM Industry from the Front Lines

Jim Panagas
Mar 28, 2018

Recently, EContent Magazine published an article titled “The State of Web Content Management 2018.” It was based on the input of industry analysts as well as some leading vendors. To complement that article, we thought it would be interesting to speak with practitioners who are working on the front lines, implementing WCM solutions on a daily basis. To ensure that we got a balanced view, we spoke with practitioners from a variety of geographies around the globe: Brian McKeiver of BizStream, based in the USA; Jonathan Healey of NetConstruct and Ben Rudman of MMT Digital, both based in the UK; and Elizabeth Gibbons of Zeroseven, headquartered in Australia.  

Picking the Right Solution

So, let’s begin with the basic question: In 2018, how do companies determine the right CMS solution for their business? Should they go open-source or commercial? Premise or cloud-based? There is a dizzying array of solutions already on the market, and new ones continue to emerge, particularly in the cloud space.

“It has less to do with the particular platform that you choose,” says Brian McKeiver of Michigan-based BizStream, “and more with how you plan to use the platform.” He continues, “Focus on your requirements, integration points, and preferred technology stack first, and think about the brand of CMS second.”

Jonathan Healey of the UK’s NetConstruct adds that one should look at additional factors such as scalability and support, while Ben Rudman of London’s MMT Digital points to the importance of the people who will actually be installing the solution hands-on. “One of the first things you should do,” he recommends, “is arrange meetings with the short list of implementation partners.”

Elizabeth Gibbons of Zeroseven in Australia has a slightly different take on this question. From her point of view, it was critical from the start to look past today and think about the client’s needs one year, three years, or five years down the road. In other words, pick a forward-looking solution. “The best CMS,” she says, “is the one that meets the client’s needs both in the present and the future.”  

Factoring Analyst and End-user Reviews into Your Decision

There’s certainly no shortage of WCM vendors in 2018. And there’s also no shortage of opinions as to which solutions are the most viable. They come in the form of analyst reviews as well as end-user commentary. So how much should these reviews influence your purchase decision?

“I would definitely put some stock into the opinions of analysts such as Gartner and user review platforms such as TrustRadius,” says McKeiver, “but I would put just as much stock in the implementers that actually install these platforms.” Rudman regarded these reviews as “part of the wider research” that companies need to do when searching for an appropriate CMS solution.

Perhaps Gibbons summed it up best: “There are a lot of considerations and specifics to every implementation. What might matter to one client could be completely irrelevant to another. Choosing the right CMS isn’t as easy as reading an Amazon review.”  


Time to stop drowning and start riding the Big Data wave

March 21, 2018

By / Bart Omlo / In Insight /

Big Data is everything, marketing practitioners from agencies around the world agree. But it isn’t easy to stay abreast of it all and many feel overwhelmed by data, data, everywhere. Don’t be engulfed by the Big Data wave, says Bart Omlo – who brings together comments from senior marketers on how companies are adjusting their strategies and using the latest technology to keep up with the ever-increasing data flow.

Many questions remain around big data. Are companies using it, interpreting it and actioning it? And, crucially, are they seeing the value from it? A study from Econsultancy found that the majority of marketers are actually poor at acting on insights derived from customer data.

But why, with gold dust at their fingertips, are they not able to leverage its power to deliver exceptional customer experiences?

There’s just so much of it.

Marketers are drowning in the stuff. The various martech platforms and content management systems deliver such a wave of powerful insights that it’s hard to prioritise. So they are turning to AI and machine learning to help make sense of it all and to fine-tune and automate it. After all, identifying user behaviour is still a key part of building customer engagement. But this solution is just another meal for the monster as it’s a cyclical process: using customer data drives the user experience, which in turn generates even more data to analyse, turn into insights and respond to with an even greater customer experience.

While the use of Big Data – especially actionable data – may depend on organisational size and sector, it’s always BIG. And it’s part of a digital marketer’s everyday life (or nightmare). Despite it being the best thing to come their way since the dawn of sales, getting Big Data to really work is not for the faint-hearted.

So, at the recent Kentico Roadshows in London and Amsterdam, we asked the experts – all senior agency marketing practitioners in leading agencies across Europe – for their views on data and riding the Big Data wave. Here’s what they said:

Henry France, Distinction, explained:

The main challenge is knowing what to do with Big Data. The hype around it has motivated people to invest in systems that measure everything possible. But it’s not an end in itself; it’s a tool that provides valuable insights, especially into customers.

It is also used to drive emerging technologies such as chatbots, said Jonathan Healey at NetConstruct:

Don’t underestimate the power of Big Data. It is pervasive — and, if you’re implementing websites, it’s ALL about Big Data. But once you have overcome the technical and managerial challenges, it can form the foundation for powerful marketing — especially personalisation with better relevancy and authenticity, which is one of the key goals for today’s marketers.

Marc Vieleers at EXLRT said:

Strike out for relevancy when riding the Big Data wave

Companies are all drowning in data. The ones keeping their heads above water and starting to do a confident front crawl are the ones that can extract the right data using interoperable business systems to help.

It’s a serious challenge, especially for those managing content, explained Marco Willemsen, Frontis:

We also have to work out where we’re going to store this unfathomable amount of data and how — a key topic as GDPR approaches.

Diana Erskine at Reading Room asked if it’s time to employ a data analyst who can break it all down and home in on what best serves us.

So, Big Data is a powerful source of marketing intelligence that enables critical decisions to be made that can dramatically improve sales through unprecedented personalised customer experiences. Yet marketers often still feel they are drowning in it.

The way we collect data in the coming years is set to change with the introduction of GDPR. And we may well see less personal data coming in. But the quality of the data will likely be much higher and therefore more actionable and effective. So companies need to get to grips with Big Data now (especially as AI and digital assistants fuel further growth) so they know which data to focus on in the future — the kind that builds close relationships with engaged customers.

Yes, Big Data is BIG, both in challenge and reward. So don’t give in to the overwhelm. Analyse. Streamline. You won’t regret it.

Have an opinion on this article? Please join in the discussion: the GMA is a community of data driven marketers and YOUR opinion counts.

This topic, GDPR and much more will be under discussion at our MINT Data Driven Marketing Summit on Wednesday April 18 in central London. GMA readers can get £100 off the ticket price. Book NOW to hear top-level speakers share their knowledge about GDPR, innovation and the new data economy.

Author: Bart Omlo
Senior VP Sales EMEA & Latin America at Kentico |

Bart Omlo has more than 15 years’ experience in the web content management and online marketing industry. As former CEO of a Dutch web agency and member of the European JBoye CMS Expert Group, he has a broad vision on the changing world of internet technology and how businesses can benefit from it.


Technology versus Creativity

March 16, 2018

By Jim Panagas

When you stop and think about it, the marketing industry has undergone some radical changes in recent years. Marketing messages are being delivered in automated fashion through a myriad of devices and channels including smartphones, tablets, elevator- and gas station-TV, smart home appliances, automobile dashboards, social media—the list is long and it’s only going to get longer.

Not only has the distribution of marketing messages become totally managed through marketing automation and CMS technologies, but also analytics have advanced in leaps and bounds as well. Marketers now have much more intelligence on their target audience. They know when and where you receive their long you spend with them...what actions you may have taken as a result...and what types of content you prefer. Armed with that information, they are able to design a digital journey that should not only be to your liking but very likely connect you with the products and services that you’re actually looking for.

The New Marketing Department:  Changing Job Titles and Descriptions

Today’s marketing industry is not only marked by a rapid and pervasive adoption of technology, but also by a redefinition of job titles and descriptions. CMOs have become the champions of revenue generation. The VP of Marketing is more focused on analytics than ever before. And a new generation of content marketers has emerged to feed the insatiable appetite companies now have for fresh marketing content.

So, who are these content marketers? And how are they different from copywriters?

Copywriters used to be hired to write copy for all sorts of traditional marketing vehicles, from brochures, data sheets, and newsletters to direct mail, websites, and event signage. The common thread was the quality of the writing had to be extraordinarily high. Copy had to be meaningful and compelling. It had to stop people in their tracks and entice them to read on. In short, it was designed to meaningfully engage people.

That being the case, people took years to progress from writer to senior writer to manager or director. But then the digital age got here, and the language began to change. Suddenly, it was all about “content” and literally overnight job descriptions changed from “copywriter” to “content marketer.”

Content Marketers versus Copywriters

Content Marketers tend to be more technology focused. They are typically tasked with running marketing automation and CMS platforms on a daily basis. Yes, they produce content and populate these marketing platforms with it, but the content isn’t the be-all and end-all that it used to be. It isn’t the center of their universe.

Copywriters, conversely, tend to hang on every word, every headline, every caption—even the way that the copy interacts with the graphics on a printed sheet or a web page.  Content marketers, by contrast, are focused on a broader canvas. Their responsibility is to marshal that content through a digital landscape of possibilities. It’s more about getting content to the right device or platform at the right time, in the right format and being able to track that content every step of the way.

Where copywriters are more focused on the writing rather than the technology, the inverse may be true for content marketers. That’s just the reality of how the industry has shaken out.

Quality of Content 

So, at the end of the day, has the industry gotten it right? Do we have the right types of people with the right skillsets working in marketing? And are we regularly delivering compelling and memorable messages to our target audience?

There may be an opportunity for some fine-tuning. It seems that, for marketing, the pendulum has swung away from creativity...and toward technology. That’s why we occasionally have misfires where messages don’t seem to connect with the audience or elicit the desired response—confounding corporate management.

It may make some sense for the pendulum to swing back to the center. Yes, we need to continue to embrace technology in all of its forms as it comes racing at us in the marketing profession. But we also need to apply a high level of creativity and critical thinking to our messaging. We need to give our messaging the same care and attention that we give to the finished products and services that we’re promoting. After all, regardless of what device or channel that we’re aiming for, our messages are being read by human beings. We need to take great care to talk to them, engage them, and ultimately win their hearts and minds.

Creativity and Critical Thinking

Technology has brought marketing into the 21st century. But let’s not forget about the creativity and critical thinking that made marketing so memorable and effective in the first place—there’s still room for that in the mix. One possible solution is to have both content marketers andcopywriters at work in the marketing bullpen. With the right balance, we might just end up with the best of both worlds:  widely distributed yet very high-quality content that people actually enjoy reading. And in that kind of scenario, everybody wins.

About the Author: Jim Panagas is the Director of PR & Analyst Relations for Kentico Software, a leading provider of CMS technology. He’s a seasoned marketing and communications professional who has been working in the high-tech industry for more than 20 years. His current assignment is educating the market about digital experience platforms including Kentico EMS and Kentico Cloud.

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